How to Improve Your Pickleball Serve

Beginner or not, serving is the first thing you need to do when playing pickleball. Because it is also the way to score points, it is important that you use techniques where your opponent hands out points to you by committing errors.

First things first:

Understand the rules of the pickleball serve

  • Serves always starts on the right side of the court and are made diagonally on the opposing side of the net into the non-volley zone.
  • A server continues to serve until they commit errors and lose a point.
  • Before each serve, the score should be called out, which consist of three numbers.
    1. First number – score of the serving team.
    2. Second number – score of the receiving team.
    3. Third number – is either one or two, depending on whether it is the first or second chance for the serving team to serve.
  • A server only gets one chance to serve except in a ‘let’ where the ball hits the net but still lands in the service court.
  • Always use the underhand serve motion, which is similar to bowling.
  • The paddle and ball must make contact below a server’s waist.
  • A server’s feet must be behind the baseline when serving. It is considered a fault if a foot touches the baseline before the ball is struck.

Now that you know the rules, it’s time to learn the proper technique of a pickleball serve.

Keep release simple

The goal is to get the serve over the net, so there’s no need to do anything elaborate. Simply reach out and release or drop the ball and then swing from your shoulder.

Point the paddle where you want the ball to go. Remember to extend your paddle arm to where your target is at the end of your swing.

Do not rush

The most effective serve follows a natural and easy motion. Since simple is better, do not rush your serving motion as well.

Perfect your aim

The lead shoulder, which is the left shoulder for right-handed players, will dictate where the ball will travel. So when you swing, make sure that your lead shoulder moves towards the direction of where your target is, which is diagonal and into the non-volley zone.

Perfect the “underhand” bowling motion

When serving, always use the underhand stroke, where the paddle head moves in an upward motion of at one degree or more. Serving when the paddle moves at 0 degrees or in a downward motion are illegal.

As previously mentioned, contact between the paddle and the ball must be made below the waist, which is defined as below the navel level.

It is also important that the paddle head’s position is lower than the wrist when it hits the ball. That is, the highest part/edge of the paddle must be lower than where the wrist bends.

To achieve a smooth and natural underhand motion, transfer your weight from back to front. When you take a short backswing, shift your weight on to your back foot. As you hit the ball with the paddle, shift your weight on to your front foot.

Never let the ball drop too low before you hit it with the paddle.

Serve deep into the baseline

Deep impact, as this technique is called, is the cone practice’s highlight. When a serve is made deep into the baseline of an opponent, three things can happen:

  1. The opponent will have difficulty returning the pickleball.
  2. The opponent will have difficulty getting to the net as quickly as possible.
  3. The harder it is for the opposite number to get the net.

Suffice it to say that the deeper the serve is, the better.

Serve to your opponent’s backhand

Most people are weaker on their backhands, so use that to your advantage and serve to the backhand of your opponents. Keep your serve deep and firm, and you’ll have an easy win.

Mix up your serves

To win a game, it is important that you throw opponents off their game. This can be achieved by mixing up your serves, especially in terms of velocity and location. It would also help if you add lob-like high serves in your arsenal.

How do you get the techniques down? Practice, of course.

Train to get your pickleball serve right

On the practice court, learn to serve at sharp angles, follow non-standard techniques, and dish out some heavy spin serves. Remember where both feet should be when you serve.

To keep your serve consistent, develop a pre-serve routine. Think of this as a pre-shot regime that a basketball player makes at the free throw line. The goal is to develop a routine where your serve follows an automatic pattern.

A pre-serve routine will give your brain a sense of consistency that it associates with physical motion. Once your brain learns how to perform the routine every time, your consistency and confidence will also increase.

Set a target on a practice court and serve. You know where the opponent’s service area is, so hit the ball towards that direction. For starters, aim for the middle. Then, practice serving deep and onto the corners of the box.

For every time you commit a service error, make adjustments to correct it. The more training and practice you do, the easier it will be to identify errors and correct them.

Practice hitting deep and short serves. The former is best when playing against an opponent who prefers the court back at the baseline, while the latter is best when playing against slower opponents.

Regular training and practice are the best way to develop a consistent routine that will help you find the perfect rhythm for your game. Consistency is key. Use the cone “small target” practice to help you perfect your serve.

Final thoughts

In pickleball, the most effective serve guarantees a score. This is why you must know how to do it right while taking into account the rules defined. Make sure to practice often and learn various techniques to throw your opponents off their game.

One important thing you must remember is that serving the pickleball is simply to put the ball in play and should not be used as an offensive weapon.

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